Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
It’s hard to read such an honest book full of uncomfortable truths. The author picks up where Caged Bird left off, telling her story from ages 17-19. It’s a story of beginnings and endings as she struggles to define herself as a person and find her way as an adult in a harsh world, as her family disintegrates around her. She tries on and discards personas like costumes – short order cook, grand sophisticate, professional dancer, giddy young mistress, sternly remote woman, whorehouse madam, aspiring junkie. This last venture ends the book and what an emotional nuclear bomb it was.
As she tells her story, Angelou seems to regard her younger self with both impatience and sympathy, never trying to justify her thoughts and actions, but only demonstrating how she reacted to and attempted to control her circumstances, made mistakes and learned from them, and through it we see how she grew to become the woman who inspired so many.
Vintage hardcover, picked up secondhand at a used bookshop.
I read this for The 24 Festive Tasks 2019 for Door 22 New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31): Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM! with fireworks on the cover, set in medieval times, about the papacy, or where miracles of any sort are performed.